In early May 2019, Santangelo and co-defendant Roy, recruited a 15-year-old runaway from the Modesto area to engage in prostitution. They drove the victim from Merced to Medford, Oregon, Santangelo’s former hometown, in order to put the 15-year-old to work engaging in prostitution. Once in Oregon, Santangelo advertised the victim’s commercial sex acts on the internet and harbored her in a motel room that she rented. After a few days in Oregon, the victim called her family for help, and Oregon police subsequently found the victim in Santangelo’s motel room along with Santangelo and Roy.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Stockton Police Department, the San Joaquin District Attorney’s Office, the Medford (Oregon) Police Department, and the Jackson County (Oregon) District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cameron L. Desmond and Brian A. Fogerty are prosecuting the case.
On April 12, 2021, Roy was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller to 17 years and seven months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of a child.
Santangelo is scheduled for sentencing by Judge Mueller on Nov. 8, 2021. Santangelo faces a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine. Her convictions on the sex trafficking of a child and transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity counts each carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. Click on the “resources” tab for information about internet-safety education.